On this page, we present some of the sights that are must-see essentials on a visit to Oxford.
The Bodleian Library
The Radcliffe Camera
The Radcliffe Camera has become a symbol of Oxford University. Its circular footprint capped by a dome makes it a distinctive landmark and it is often seen on the cover of guide books and other publications about Oxford.
Dr. John Radcliffe was once of the most successful doctors in England. When he died in 1714, he left a large sum of money for the construction of a new library in Oxford.
It took a number of years to purchase the land and to select an architect. Most of the important architects of the day were considered but most of the candidates passed away as the project lingered. Finally, James Gibbs was selected to be the architect for the new library.
The new library opened in 1749. Although in the midst of the Oxford colleges and next to the Bodleian Library, the new library was independent and not part of the university.
Although there was much praise for the building, there was little use of the library. This was primarily because the new library had very few books. Over time books were amassed but it was a disparate collection and so the number of readers remained low.
In 1860, the Bodleian took over the Radcliffe Library. The name was changed to the Radcliffe Camera to bring it in line with the building's new role as a reading room. (Camera is the word for room in Latin.)
Today, the Radcliffe Camera is the main undergraduate reading room of the Bodleian. The lower level reading room holds collections on theology and English literature collections while in the upper level reading room are the history collections. An underground passage physically links the Radcliffe Camera to the Bodleian.
Univserity Church of St. Mary
The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin is the largest of Oxford' parish churches. However, it also played a key role in the development of the university in that this is where all of the meetings and ceremonies were held prior to the construction of the Sheldonian Theatre (discussed on next page).
From its 13th century spire, one gets an excellent view of the skyline of Oxford. However, it is 124 steps to the top.
Cruise destination guide - England - Oxford - Essentials